“I wonder” is a phrase that I often coin throughout my day. ‘I wonder if I left the gas on?’ or ‘I wonder where I left my keys?’ ‘I wonder if I should do that?’. Questions and pondering that regularly interrupt me. However, there is also a kind of wonder that takes you by surprise and changes your life. This kind of wonder comes around much less frequently and often leaves a memorable mark upon you.
One such moment happened on a recent trip to one of the great wonders of the world. There is a good reason why Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef is called a wonder. I had come away to Far North Queensland on a family diving holiday. It wasn’t the weather we’d hoped for as the winds were strong and the seas were rough, but we didn’t let that deter us too much for what we’d come there to see. Minke Whales!
It was one of those moments in your life that will likely only ever come around once so you just had to cease the moment. I had not been diving for over 10 years and hadn’t been a particular enthusiast in the past as the thought of drowning 30m deep on the ocean floor didn’t sound that appealing. It was also winter time and the sea temperatures were not that inviting either, the waves were raging and frankly I was scared about sharks and getting back into the water again. All completely rational fears I thought. However, there was something within me that just knew, if I didn’t overcome my fears and dislike of cold water then I would miss out on a great wonder that was awaiting me.
So I forced myself to go through the trauma of putting on my extra thick wetsuit. Just imagine the scene of trying to slide a middle aged, well rounded, 5ft 10inch woman into a small neoprene tube! Thank goodness I remembered to go to the bathroom prior to what looked like a dysfunctional yoga session. It took all my perseverance to want to continue. The end result was I looked like a bloated sumo wrestler stuffed full of carbs and unable to breath. Needless to say my first dip under the ocean did not go well and my visions of an underwater burial was nearly prophetic. Thankfully my dive buddy was very experienced and knew exactly how to handle an irrational over dramatic drowning wannabe yoga guru. He calmed me down and took me slowly through the steps while I gained my composure and remembered I can actually breathe through my mouth instead doh!
I felt like swimming to the surface and saying “that’s it I cannot do this, I’ve tried, diving is just not for me” but I don’t like letting fear dictate my decisions and it frustrates me to give in to such demands of emotion. So instead I ignored my fears and put the thoughts of drowning to the back of my mind and carried on regardless. The choice I made to overcome all the things that were seemingly stacked against me was the best decision I ever made. It led to a majestic moment just a few days later where I surfaced from a dive, just me and my dive buddy, alone in the open ocean when a Minke Whale swam right underneath us and then came inquisitively up to say hello.
They say swimming with Whales is a life changing experience and if I’d have heard that statement before I experienced this moment, I probably would have said stop exaggerating. Except, perhaps, if it was Jonah who said it. However, I had a moment alone, just me and the Minke in one of the greatest wonders of the world and I got an overwhelming sense of wonder flooding over me. I was just an arm’s length away from one of the giants of the ocean, a creature so big and vast that it opened my eyes to the magnitude and sheer beauty of God’s creation. A feeling that I can’t say I’ve ever experienced quite like this before. It was a good job that I was by now at the surface of the water because I gulped and held my breath as he peacefully and majestically just swam around me.
Whenever I have since shared this story with friends the first question I always get asked is “were you scared?”. Well, here’s the thing, if I was scared of drowning, cold water and yoga then this would seemingly be a situation that would naturally fill me with fear, but somehow I was at total peace. I was lost in the moment of sharing the same space with a giant whale that was by now speaking directly to me as if God himself was speaking through him.
I left the ocean that day as a new woman and I can’t even explain fully why, but to come so close to something so beautiful, majestic, untouched and undefiled by the world that existed above the surface has deposited something significant in me that I shall take with me forever. It brought me so much closer to our creator.
The wonder of this moment was not the only wonder I was left with however. I wonder what other experiences I may have missed out on because I stopped at the ill fitting wetsuit? I wonder what else could be out there waiting for me to discover? I wonder what fears have stopped me from experiencing life to the fullest, I wonder how much more in this life that I will discover, where only fear stands in my way.
Finally I wonder if we took time to overcome our setbacks, our busy schedules, our crippling fears to really stop and see beauty in the creation that surrounds us; in the faces of our children, in the love of our parents, in the loyalty of the family pet, in the beauty of a sunrise or the joys of dancing in the rain, then we would see that wonder isn’t just in the face of a whale but all around us just waiting to be discovered.
Can you see the wonder?
Job 12 7-10 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind”